Earlier, Syrian President Bashar Assad also expressed his doubts about the fate of the notorious terrorist and said that Washington could recreate him “under a different name, as a different individual,” also suggesting the Americans could reproduce “ISIS in its entirety,” possibly “under a different name but with the same thought and the same purpose.”
Russia still cannot verify Washington’s claims about the elimination of the Islamic State leader, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, adding that the US facilitated the rise of the group in the first place.
“ISIS as such came into existence in the wake of the US illegal invasion of Iraq, the collapse of the Iraqi state and the release of extremists that Americans previously kept in prisons there…”
So, to a certain degree, the Americans have now eliminated their own spawn, if it did happen.
Lavrov also said that the Russian military still do not have enough information to confirm with confidence that the self-proclaimed ‘Caliph’ is indeed dead. “We want to get additional information,” he said.
It was all stated triumphantly and jubilantly. Yet, our military still study the issue and … cannot confirm many US statements so far.
US President Donald Trump pompously announced American special forces neutralized the terrorist leader in “a daring night-time raid” in northwest Syria, yet, his statement was met with skepticism by many. While the Pentagon released drone footage of the raid, it offered little proof regarding the terrorist leader’s demise itself. His mutilated body, found under the rubble of a collapsed tunnel, was allegedly buried at sea, but evidence for this assertion, too, essentially remains classified.
‘Arrogant & illegal’: Lavrov denounces US military’s oil moves in Syria at Russian-Turkish-Iranian press event
The US was “arrogant” to send its troops to guard oilfields in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said, adding that it remains unclear from whom the installations need to be protected.
The actions of the Americans in Syria violate international law, as their presence in the country is “illegal,” Lavrov reiterated, appearing alongside his Iranian and Turkish counterparts at a press-conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
The statement that this [US] presence is needed to protect the oil riches of Syria is arrogant. It turns out that they are being protected from Syria itself.
Washington’s claims that oilfields needed protection from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group were just a pretext to backtrack on the withdrawal of the US troops from Syria, which had earlier been announced by Donald Trump.
Such a statement sounds especially confusing as “back in March, the US already announced that Islamic State is defeated, crushed,” he reminded the attendance in Geneva.
Lavrov, Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu, and Iranian FM Mohammad Javad Zarif got together to discuss the official launch of the Syrian Constitutional Committee to take place in Geneva on Wednesday.
Another pressing issue on the agenda was the ceasefire in northern Syria, which was negotiated by Russia and Turkey in Sochi last week, but was due to expire later on Tuesday.
Cavusoglu warned that any Kurdish units, whom Ankara views as terrorists, remaining in the “safe zone” on the Turkish-Syrian border after the truce ends will be eliminated. However, he pointed out that Turkey trusts Moscow when it said that the Kurds have left the area, per the agreement.
The Pentagon has released the first images from the raid that led to the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, showing US forces obliterating resistance.
Video showed American special forces came under fire as they approached the building, and a helicopter took out the gunmen from the air.
Another video showed US Delta Force operators advancing on the compound across open ground.
A third film showed a missile strike that flattened the compound following the raid in north-west Syria at the weekend.
There were also before-and-after photographs, and a senior military official said the compound now resembled a “parking lot.”
General Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, said “fighters from two locations in the vicinity of the compound began firing on US aircraft participating in the assault” before they were destroyed.
He said four men and two women were killed by US forces inside the compound. Two children who were taken into a tunnel by Baghdadi as he fled were “under the age of 12,” he said.
General McKenzie said Baghdadi may have fired, or attempted to fire a weapon at US forces from the tunnel before detonating a suicide vest, killing himself and the two children.
“He crawled into a hole with two small children and blew himself up while his people stayed on the ground,” the general said. He could not confirm Donald Trump’s suggestion that Baghdadi was “whimpering and crying” in the moments before he died.
He also gave further details about a dog injured while chasing Baghdadi down the tunnel. The dog was hurt after encountering live wires in the passageway. It has completely recovered.
The animal is a four-year veteran of military service and has been involved in more than 50 combat missions, the general said.
General McKenzie said a DNA test showed “beyond a shadow of a doubt” that the dead man in the tunnel was Baghdadi.
It produced a “level of certainty that the remains belonged to Baghdadi of one in 104 septillion.”
Central Command confirmed Baghdadi was buried at sea.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr joined protesters in Iraq’s holy city of Najaf on Tuesday, warning he plans to join forces with the a rival parliamentary bloc to unseat the government of Adil Abdul-Mahdi.
The influential cleric’s comments come as protests continue across Iraq, leading to widespread violence and fatalities.
Sadr has already withdrawn his backing for the government in the wake of the protests and has called for fresh elections. He accused Iraq’s top politicians of being under the influence of foreign powers – particularly arch rivals Iran and the United States.
In a sign of shifting political allegiances to come, Sadr held out an offer of cooperation with Hadi al-Amiri, head of the Iraqi parliament’s powerful al-Fatih bloc.
His tweet came in response to Abdul-Mahdi’s letter on Tuesday in which the Iraqi PM asked Sadr to cooperate with Amiri if he wants the PM to resign.
“I ask brother Hadi al-Amiri for cooperation in order to withdraw trust from you,” Sadr told Abdul-Mahdi in his tweet. “As we will also work on modifying the constitution and changing the Iraqi High Electoral Commission and its regulations.”
Sadr is head of the Sayirun alliance, the largest bloc in the Iraqi parliament. He is also head of the Saraya al-Salam militia, which is part of Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) umbrella, also known as Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic.
In his letter to Sadr, Abdul-Mahdi goaded the Sayirun leader “to meet al-Amiri and decide on forming the new government in order for me to resign”.
“I can’t go in front of the parliament and hand over my resignation to the parliament, as other steps need to be considered according to the Iraqi constitution,” he added.
In order to hold snap elections, the president of Iraq has to approve an official request from Iraqi PM to dissolve the parliament, and parliament must vote on its own dissolution, according to article 64 of the Iraqi constitution.
In yet another attempt to quell the protests, Abdul-Mahdi announced a further package of reforms on Tuesday evening concerning garbage collection, sanitation, and flood-prevention – far removed from the demands of the protesters.
At least 74 people have been killed since the protests resumed on Friday, according to the most recent figures from the Human Rights Commission.
Footage submitted to Rudaw English depicts violent clashes between protesters and security forces in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on Monday night, October 28, 2019. Credit: submitted
A wave of unrest spilled over southern Iraq earlier this month as Iraqis took to the streets to demand action on unemployment, poor services, and rampant corruption. At least 157 people were killed in the first nine days of the month, according to the United Nations.
Protests resumed on Friday after the Shiite religious observance of Arbaeen – only this time the protesters are demanding is a “revolution” to sweep away the old Islamic parties.
In a statement on Tuesday, the United Nationals Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) condemned the violent repression of demonstrations.
“The special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, condemns in the strongest terms the rising number of deaths and injuries during the demonstrations engulfing many parts of Iraq,” UNAMI said.
Hennis-Plasschaert reminded the Iraqi government that “violence is never the answer” and that “national dialogue is urgently needed to find prompt and meaningful response”.
The UNAMI statement comes after a bloody night in the holy Shiite city of Karbala on Monday, as security forces used live ammunition to disperse protesters, killing dozens and wounding hundreds.
“Witness reports indicate that live fire was used against demonstrators, causing high numbers of casualties,” the statement added.
According to the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, at least one protester was killed and around 190 wounded.
“One protester died, while 142 security members and 50 protesters wounded in Karbala province on Monday night,” the statement reads. “While 140 protesters detained, but 80 of the detainees released and 60 remained in custody.”
The Associated Press put the figure at 18 killed and hundreds wounded.
Ali al-Bayati, a member of Iraq’s Independent High Human Rights Commission, published an open letter to Iraqi President Barham Salah on Monday claiming a war had broken out in Karbala.
“To his Excellency the President, the guardian of the constitution and the people, you stated today that Iraq will not accept a war between America and Iran. Do you realize that there is a war on our Iraqi soil, not somewhere else, and between its children? It happened in Karbala,” Bayati said in a Facebook post.
He embedded a video appearing to depict masked men, wearing vests and helmets, beating a man in an alley.
Despite the violent response of security forces, the protests are ongoing in several provinces of Iraq.
“Trump initially promised to release a video of the raid, but the Pentagon later said that it had disposed of al-Baghdadi’s remains at sea and have no plans to share any videos or photos.”—‘All we have are Trump’s words’: UN isn’t confirming elimination of IS chief al-Baghdadi
Baghdadi appears at a mosque in Mosul, Iraq, according to a video posted online in 2014. (Reuters)
“IS SEIZING THE OIL FIELDS THE ONLY WAY TO SAVE THIS COUNTRY?”
Vice President Mike Pence announced Thursday that Turkey has agreed to a cease-fire to allow the Kurdish forces it was battling to safely withdraw from an area in northern Syria. (Oct. 17) AP, AP
The deployment of heavy armor to Syria would represent a significant escalation in the fight, requiring a contingent of additional troops to operate and maintain the vehicles, as well as forces to protect their bases.
Earlier this month, Trump ordered that virtually all of the 1,000 U.S. troops be withdrawn from Syria, a move met with bipartisan condemnation as an abandonment of Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS.
A Defense Department official said the Pentagon is sending additional forces to northeastern Syria to prevent the oil fields from falling back into the hands of ISIS. Both officials were not authorized to speak publicly.
“I’m trying to get out of wars. We may have to get in wars, too,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting Monday.
By Thursday, the Pentagon was planning for a significant escalation.
Kurdish forces controlled much of northeastern Syria until two weeks ago. After an Oct. 6 phone call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey invaded Syria, pushing the Kurds south.
Now Russian troops, which are in Syria to bolster the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and Turkish forces are operating in the region previously patrolled by U.S. and Kurdish forces.
Expert: Move aimed at Russia and Syria, not ISIS
Sending Abrams battle tanks and Bradley armored vehicles would mark a new stage in the five-year campaign against ISIS. Newsweek first reported the plans to send armor to the region.
The composition of the additional forces and the type of equipment to be sent to Syria is still being worked out, the U.S. official told USA TODAY. Placing heavily armored vehicles in Syria would require more logistical personnel to support them than the previous force of American commandos needed, the official said.
‘The US has been sidelined’: Turkey and Russia agree to joint patrols in Syria
The deployment of armor is aimed at Russia and Syria, not ISIS, said Nicholas Heras, an expert on Syria with the Center for a New American Security. He said the U.S-led coalition against ISIS had succeeded in keeping oil from the militant group, using a combination of U.S.-led airstrikes and the Syrian Democratic Forces, made up largely of Kurds, on the ground.
“This move would either indicate that the U.S. military believes that it cannot depend on the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) to protect the oil fields, and instead cut a deal with Russia and Assad behind America’s back, or that the U.S. expects Assad and Russia to try to take the oil by force,” Heras said.
“Pure and simple,” he said, “the Pentagon is making contingencies for a big fight with Russia for Syria’s oil.”